In the recovery communities of the world two words are thrown around more than most – Recovery and Sobriety – and often the two are linked as meaning the same thing. They are not.
The two are differentiated in the phrase, ‘You can’t be in recovery without being sober, but you can be sober without being in recovery’.
Being sober means just that. You have put down the drink, drugs or suspended your behaviour of choice for a period of time. I had ‘sober’ moments in my active addiction all the time. It’s how I could justify to myself that I wasn’t an addict or alcoholic because I hadn’t picked up for 2 or 3 days. My ‘sobriety’ in active addiction played straight into my denial, which in turn kept from entering recovery. Just being sober, means simply remaining abstinent for a period, making the alcohol, drugs and behaviours the problem, when they are just the solutions to the real problem. And the real problem is you. Many in the community may have maintained sobriety but still face life an as addict, with all the same problems and characteristics – this is more commonly recognised as ‘dry drunk syndrome’.
Recovery is the process of becoming better emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually whilst maintaining sobriety. Recovery is working through the issues that cause you to want to use. Recovery means healing. Recovery is learning to love our selves, and others. Recovery is finding peace. Recovery is continually becoming a better person. Recovery is owning up to our actions right or wrong, and is giving up the victim role. Recovery is making amends, and not just saying were sorry. Recovery is action. Recovery is daily. Recovery isn’t a one-time thing, it is a lifelong journey.
And recovery can come in many forms – whether it be direct, regular contact with a specialist therapist, the 12-step program, SMART recovery, trying new ways to personally develop ourselves through motivational and self- improvement initiatives, working with a life coach, getting more involved with your church or other spiritual groups, reading and using recovery literature, exercise, yoga, Pilates or simply talking with a friend or acquaintance in recovery – there are more.
The point is that simply having sober time is different from having recovery time. And it is an important distinction to make, because addicts can fool themselves that just because they haven’t used for a few days, they are ok. It feeds into complacency and can lead to relapse.
What are you going to do today that goes beyond simply not picking up? What are you going to do that is based in recovery and healing? Even if it’s is just one recovery action a day, you are one action closer to make a better, more serene life for yourself.
Have a great Monday!